Exodus: Week 12 Study Guide

In part 12 of the Book of Exodus, we’ll study Exodus 16 as we see the Lord provide bread from heaven for the Israelites in the wilderness!


Below, you’ll find some key discussion points to consider, questions to personally reflect on and/or discuss in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, and some action points for the week. 

Memory Verse of the Week: Exodus 16:11–12 (NIV)

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, “At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”‘”

Time Loops and Trust

READ: Exodus 16:1­–5

The Edge of Tomorrow, Groundhog’s Day, and Looper are all examples of stories centered around a time loop—the continuous repeating of the same moment or series of events. 

When you read certain sections of Exodus, doesn’t it feel like the Israelites are sort of caught in a time loop? Consider that 14 times in Exodus and Numbers, we see the Israelites complain against Moses, which is really a complaint against God. Seriously, are they caught in a time loop they simply can’t break out of? Yes and no. 

Yes, because they were caught in the time loop known as life in a fallen world. You know what we’re talking about. You face the same temptations, struggles, issues, and situations again and again. Often, it feels like you’re living the exact same moment daily, making the same errors, and having the same struggles on repeat. 

For the Israelites, it seems every time they faced any sort of potential challenge or uncertainty, any slight discomfort, they complained and were consumed with discontentedness. 

So, how did we get to this complaint? Well, after leaving the oasis of rest and comfort of Elim, they came to the Desert of Sin. The name actually had nothing to do with sin and could be translated Zin, but as their time there unfolds, we see this desert had a lot to do with sin. 

Now, their issue was legitimate. They were running out of the food they brought from Egypt and needed to eat. However, as much as they, and we, face the same problems time and time again living in a fallen world, God has proven time and time again that He is all powerful, in control, deeply concerned with our wellbeing, and always faithful! 

Throughout the plagues of Egypt, at the Red Sea and at Elim, He brought salvation, deliverance, protection, and provision. Could He not have provided food? Of course! But how quickly they/we forget that which the Lord has done. And they even pined for their enslavement because it was seemingly more comfortable! 

Now watch what God says, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day” (Exodus 16:4). And then He tells them to only gather what they need for that day, except the day before the Sabbath. Why? To continue to prove His faithfulness to provide for their needs.

Now we get to the NO. It doesn’t have to be a time loop. The cycle of sin, bitterness, struggle, pride, discontentedness, fear, and anger can be broken. Freedom is possible. It comes by trusting in Jesus! He is faithful and always will be. He keeps His promises. He will never leave or forsake His people. He works all things for the good of those who love Him, and He is our Good Shepherd. Trust in Him! 

  • In your trials, trust instead of complain.
  • In challenges, trust instead of becoming entitled.
  • In doubt, trust instead of growing cynical.
  • In uncertainty, trust instead of experiencing fear.
  • In your struggles, trust instead of becoming bitter.
  • In your temptations, trust instead of feeling despair. 

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8 NIV). Through Jesus, we can be set free!

Discussion Question 1: What can we learn from the Israelites and their actions in the circumstances they kept facing?

Discussion Question 2: What does it look like for you to “gather enough for that day”? How are you presently trusting in His provision?


Grumbling vs. Gratitude

READ: Exodus 16:6–8

The people of Israel had left the safe haven of Elim and were running out of food, so they grumbled and complained (AGAIN) to Moses and Aaron saying, “You have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (Exodus 16:3 NIV). They accused Moses and Aaron of being the ones who brought them there. This is why Moses calls them out, saying, “Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.” (Exodus 16:8 NIV).

The people thought they were complaining against Moses and Aaron, but really, they were complaining against the Lord. Know this friends, when you’re constantly complaining about your circumstances, about what you have, and about everything around you, what you’re actually doing is complaining against the Lord Himself, who has ordained your steps and placed you where you are! 

You would think with everything they’d seen and experienced, Israel would already know the Lord brought them out of Egypt and not Moses, and that if the Lord had brought them this far, He would continue to be faithful. But experiences, even great experiences, don’t change the heart as much as we think. This is why Peter instructs, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10 ESV). Emotional experiences apart from true commitment and Spirit-initiated transformation make for frail, shallow faith like seeds that have been planted on rocky ground (Matthew 13). 

But look at how gracious and patient the Lord is: “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him” (Exodus 16:8 NIV). Despite their faithlessness, entitlement, and ingratitude, God still shows Himself faithful to His promises and merciful to those whom He chose as His own. 

How often do we doubt, grumble and complain and fail to recognize the blessings, provision, and hand of the Lord all around us? How often do we approach the season and station which the Lord has positioned us in with ingratitude and often resentment and yet He is still patient, provides and reveals His power and goodness to us, and remains faithful to accomplish His good and perfect purposes?

So, what can we do? How can we guard against this attitude? HUMILITY! “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:12–16 NIV). Do you see that? In humility, without grumbling or complaining, we can not only avoid the trappings that the Israelites fell prey to, but we can also grow in faith and love for the Lord and shine the light of His glory amongst those who don’t yet know Him.

Discussion Question 3: What quality did the Israelites lack in the desert? What can we do to keep ourselves from making the same mistakes?

Discussion Question 4: What steps can you take to break free from the grumbling mentality and instead walk in gratitude?

What Is It?

READ: Exodus 16:9–16

“What is this?” I remember it vividly: I was nine years old, sitting with my parents at a Spanish restaurant, scarfing down these delicious fried rings of something I was completely unfamiliar with. Calamari, they called it. “Okay, but what is it?” Well, after I devoured almost the entire plate, they revealed it was in fact squid. Was I grossed out? Not even a little bit. I didn’t care because it was just so wonderful.

In Exodus 16, God shone His glory even though the Israelites had complained against Him, and He mercifully provided meat at night so they would know He is the Lord. But in the morning, an unfamiliar thing appeared. And even though He had declared what He was going to provide them with (bread), they still said, “What is it?”—the words used to phrase this question are where we get the term manna. It was bread from heaven, but they didn’t see it for what it was at first. This shows us something powerful: When God’s provision comes, we don’t always recognize it. 

God met the great needs of Israel, but He did it in a way they didn’t expect. Can you think of another time involving bread when this happened? In John 6! You see, after having fed thousands with just five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus is approached the next day for more free meals. He says to the crowd, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:27 NIV). 

Then, Jesus tells them all they need to do is believe in Him! God shows up, provides what they need the most, but they don’t recognize Him. They want another miracle—bread from heaven. To this, Jesus responds, “The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33 NLT). And when they ask for this bread, Jesus drops a bombshell: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35 NLT). 

What is it? It’s so fitting that this bread took on this name, based on a question, because the bread in the desert wasn’t the answer. 1,500 years later, God spelled out the answer regarding the provision for the great need of all people: His name is Jesus, the ultimate display of God’s mercy, kindness, and love to all humanity. 

In the gospel, we discover that Jesus is all we need, that knowing Him provides true satisfaction, and that He give us eternal life and abundant life. Through the gospel, we see the glory of God and, by faith (which is in and of itself a provision of God, a gift imparted on us through the Holy Spirit), know that He is Lord! Because of the gospel, we can “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8 NIV). 

As His followers, may we reflect this; that our lives draw people to ask, “What is it?” and that we’re ready to share the gospel. May we be a people who make the goodness of God recognizable to others.

Discussion Question 5: What parallels can you draw between Exodus 16 and John 6? How does Jesus provide all we need?


Write down everything God has provided for you in Christ—spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Consider all the blessings, redemption, reconciliation, salvation, life change, and heart change that has taken place in your life since you received Him. 


In our next study, we’ll study Exodus 17 as the Lord not only provides water from a rock for the people in the desert, but also brings them victory in battle. Discover how obedience to Him and His call on your life enables you to see victory in your life!

Additional Resources

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.